The Independence varsity Softball team finished 13-12 overall, and 8-4 in the SW4A Conference. The team batted .371, six players had 11 or more RBIs, the team hit 41 doubles and 5 home runs last year.
The key returning senior players are Olivia Pauldin (1B), Leah Renn (P), Sarah Smith (2B), Huntleigh Williams (SS). The juniors include Kendall Anderson (OF), sophomores Brianna Grant (OF), Anna Easter (3B).
The newcomers include senior Sam Owens, sophomores Kayla Douglas, Emily Shaver promoted from the junior varsity, transfer Laikyn Berry, freshmen Abrianna Berry, Kingsley Reardon, Jailyn Adkins, and Tia Montalto.
The expectations from Coach Amanda Larry is the team is expected to compete for the top conference spot, improve overall upon 2016, continue to hit and score runs, remain solid defensively, play at a higher level, and basically up their game a notch or two.
“We play in a very competitive conference where Porter Ridge has been the top team for the past three years. Butler is a huge rival and they are always tough, then we factor in Myers Park and East Mecklenburg, who are both much improved. We need to be fully prepared to compete in every game,” said Coach Larry.
The team’s strengths are a core group of seven returning players with solid experience, with Sophomore Kayla Douglas to compliment Leah Renn on the mound, hard work and dedication from the remaining group of girls. “We have high individual expectations from each player; however, we are always stressing team first,” said Coach Larry.
Biggest concern for this team is they have 8 new players who are underclassmen; the 15 varsity players really earned their spots on the team and will all see playing time and make a contribution.
Senior Olivia Pauldin, the hard hitting first basemen who batted .449 last season, is expected to perform offensively; Anderson .457, Renn .427, and Grant .369 are all key to the offense. Catching behind the dish will be Abrianna Berry when both Leah Renn and Kayla Douglas are pitching for the Lady Patriots.
Going forward, the team is absolutely focused on playing their competition. There will be fundraising for additional field upgrades and renovations. The school recently completed the construction of a brand new backstop and fencing around the dugouts. However, there is always more work needing to be done and some support from the community would be much appreciated.